I Can Resist Anything But Temptation

by Honolulu Mother

This Vox article argues (based on a few studies and talking to a couple of psychologists) that the key thing with willpower is not so much having the self control to resist a temptation when it’s looking you in the face — apparently we’re all pretty bad at that — but instead developing a taste for virtue and cultivating habits that don’t bring you into temptation’s path, Other factors less conducive to individual control are winning the genetic lottery of being conscientious and abstemious by nature, and having the financial stability to focus on the future instead of just the moment.

Do you have any favorite tricks to avoid temptation?


83 thoughts on “I Can Resist Anything But Temptation

  1. Much to my kids’ chagrin, if I don’t buy it I won’t eat it.

    I do find it much, much harder to consistently do positive things (e.g. exercise regularly) than to resist negative things (junk food). But I do try to be kind to myself when I have given into temptation (leftover Halloween candy as a late night snack yesterday).

  2. 1. I have my savings direct deposited into my brokerage account – out of sight out of mind.

    2. I tell myself I only have to go to the gym for 5 min. I’d never go if I told myself I was going for an hour. But, once I’m there I stay for an hour.

  3. If it is food, I will try to avoid buying it.
    If I have to buy it for other people, I’ll try to avoid even having one because I might not be able to stop. Especially if it is a chip.

    If it’s a product that I don’t really need like a handbag, then I wait for a while to see if I really want it.

    I try to stick with a routine about exercise because I know that I’ll fall off the rails and just stay home if it isn’t part of my routine.

  4. I agree that removing temptations makes it a lot easier than having them in front of you all the time. For me this is especially true with food. I crave sweets, more so since my mother died, on a semi-regular basis and every so often it is salty treats. I find that if I have some high quality chocolate, that one small piece satisfies the craving, but the plain m&m variety takes a lot more to satisfy it. So, I try to limit what comes in the house in both selection and quantity.

    In general, having routines that push you to do or not to do something help the most. For example, I have a small laundry basket that pushes me to do smaller loads more often (my clothes only) and I find I complete the whole cylce – wash/dry/fold or hang/put away – in one go, plus I have fewer clothes over all. Getting a gas discount card that gives me perks for every 8 gallon fill up pushes me to fill up every week rather than waiting every 2 weeks and getting very close to empty. My tai chi class is small and the majority are regulars, the social aspect makes it easier to go than to skip.

  5. For me, starting the resistance to temptation and starting an exercise regime is harder than continuing with it. Once I start, I get kind of in the groove and it is smooth going for a while. I am now watching what I eat. The starting process was difficult, but is now much easier with some time in. it also helps to have a goal to work towards. I have a weight loss goal for new years eve and that really has spurred me. I binged on halloween candy, but have gotten back on track because I have that goal to attain.

  6. Parallels to Rhett:
    – some days, seemingly more frequently the last couple of months, I really have to convince myself to go to the gym instead of just going home after work. I always feel great afterwards, both mentally, satisfied with myself for a good decision, and physically.
    – I’m highly extrinsically motivated, so if I want to encourage my behavior, I’ll put a bounty on it. May seem silly given our financial wherewithal, but if bringing lunch / leftovers vs buying for a week happens, or going to the gym all 5 days of the workweek, I will reward myself with something (e.g. another bottle of single-malt).

  7. Another intriguing idea is called “temptation bundling,” in which people make activities more enjoyable by adding a fun component to them. One paper showed that participants were more likely to work out when they could listen to an audio copy of The Hunger Games while at the gym.

    1. This is news?
    2. I’d be more likely to work out if you promised me I don’t have to listen to The Hunger Games.

    Actually, I work out all the time, and the author is correct — it’s because I enjoy it. I’m fat because I also enjoy food.

  8. “So why is it so hard to do?”

    Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off right now.

  9. Milo – not really for me. Sometimes I skip because I have a bunch of things I want to get done ‘tonight’ but more often when I skip, I’m just being lazy. Then frequently I find I can’t get settled at home. After dinner, for which I’m probably not as hungry as I’d like to be, I often can’t concentrate on anything, reading, tv, conversations. I’m just out of sorts. So what happens? DW will say “you know, you really should have gone to the gym. Your antsy-ness is bothersome; go to the gym now or just go for a walk for 30 minutes.” And you know what? That’s just what the doctor ordered!

  10. I find it much easier to start a positive activity (e.g. exercise) than to avoid a negative one (stuff my face with carbs when I’m stressed out or tired).

    I also do some bundling of activities. I fold my laundry while watching Dancing with the Stars (it’s the perfect show to fold laundry). Of course if I miss DWTS for some reason then my laundry stays in its basket all week. I save podcasts of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me for my long runs (and there are some days where knowing I get to listen to WWDTM is the only thing that gets me out the door).

    The only time I successfully lost weight was when I was doing it with a friend and we had weekly check-ins (weigh-ins) together. I really need to find something like this again.

  11. I have no tips as far as food goes because I’ve really come around to thinking people should not restrict food at all or feel guilty for giving into temptation. The less I restrict the more I regulate naturally. I avoid vegetable oils and soy at home but if I feel like eating sweets or salt I do.

    However, finances should definitely be set on autopilot. I make myself exercise (yoga and walking) by reminding myself how much better I feel afterwards.

  12. That is why if I don’t exercise in the morning it doesn’t happen. I found two things – 1. the gym was super crowed right after work sometimes meaning all the class passed had been handed out and/or there was waiting for equipment and/or 2. that night would get pushed off because of a volunteer meeting, school meeting/activity, or some othe kid activity or need.

    I was walking the 3 weekday mornings I don’t go to my class at the gym until several women in our general area were attacked while walking/running. Local law enforcement was discouraging people from being out alone. The amount of walkers/runners in our neighborhood has decreased significantly since then. This week a “Neighborhood” member is trying to get a walking group together, but it won’t start until after Thanksgiving. I’m going to try it, but hope to find a walking buddy closer to home. If I walk to the walking group, it is a mile to the meeting place to start the walk, they haven’t yet shared the ending place, so I don’t know how far back will be.

  13. Wow is that article right on. Clearly my weakness is food. I am awesome at saving, because the fear of not having enough far outweighs the momentary joy from spending. I have zero temptation at the casino for the same reason (I know I’m going to lose, so why would spending 3 hrs throwing away my money be “fun”?). I am good at resisting things like attractions to other people, because (a) I probably don’t see half of the “opportunities” I have, and (b) I immediately think of what I would be throwing away. Simlarly no temptation for drugs, excess liquor, etc. — that would get in the way of what I want out of my life. None of this is because I am awesome at resisting temptation, but rather because the temptations just aren’t that tempting — at most, it’s a push, and why am I going to risk screwing up my life for meh?

    But food. I am *always* hungry, and I don’t like vegetables and most other healthy food. Being on the weight loss meds a few years ago was completely eye-opening, because I wasn’t always just craving food — I could eat until I felt full (which was about half my prior amount), and then I could realize I had had enough and put the fork down, no matter how good it tasted. And you know what? Turns out my willpower is pretty freaking awesome when I’m not constantly craving food — I can’t even tell you the number of courses and desserts and other things I turned down over the course of a year, because my brain could think rationally about whether “one more bite” or “oooh, that chocolate looks yummy” outweighed my long-term goals and decide, no, they didn’t.

    So the only thing that “works” now is managing my environment. I need to take the time to plan healthy meals and grocery shop and spend Sunday cooking. But this is where my efforts tend to fail more often than not — because it *is* effort. It takes time and attention and focus and work. And when we’re traveling and out of our routine, etc., that tends to be the first thing to fall by the wayside. This week, for instance, we ordered pizza Monday night, and I have had leftovers every day so far.

    I think one thing they don’t talk about is when your incentives/goals/desires conflict. E.g., I like saving money = you don’t ever waste food, huge sin. Of course, my family refuses to eat leftovers, because they are spoiled entitled twits who grew up soft and privileged. :-) Result: I am the family dog, responsible for hoovering whatever leftovers we have. But that runs counter to my larger goal of staying healthy (not so much an issue when we have chicken and veggies, but not so hot when it’s pizza). I have the same issue with buffets, because I feel like I need to eat a lot to get the “value” for the $ (which is why I never go to buffets). When I was on my diet, I had to retrain my brain to consciously tell myself it is *good* to throw out something that is bad for me, that life is not about getting the most calories/$, etc.

    On the flip side, I think these conflicting incentives are why Crossfit seems to be working so far. Exercise is not fun for me — no runner’s high — so it’s another thing that I try to fit in the schedule and then find excuses not to do (yay, another “should”). But now I have a set class time, and I can’t cancel/miss without getting in trouble, so once I sign up on Sunday, I am committed (using my fear of “getting in trouble” against me). And I specifically bought the unlimited membership vs. the per-class approach: if I pay $20/class, I’ll find reasons not to go to save the $20; OTOH, by committing to the unlimited membership for a deal, I “saved” 20% (it’s a deal!) and now feel like I *have* to go more to get the full value of what I paid (like the buffet issue, but using my powers for good instead of evil).

    Added bonus that I am actually getting a little unexpected emotional uplift from it, too. I have gotten some “runner’s high” feelings after a few workouts, which is totally new. But even when that doesn’t happen, there have been several classes where someone notices that I have done something good (generally described as “push through something really hard”) and compliments me on it. I mean, today I finished the 15-min. metcon in 14:59 — and got complimented on it! BOY does that make all the difference in the world.

  14. Um, I’m eating ice cream as I read this. So perhaps I’ll bow out on giving any tips. Normally, I’m with Kerri on “If I don’t buy it, I won’t eat it.”

    Mostly just wanted to say hi. Lots going on lately, and hoping I can find some time to come back and join this group. I hope everyone has been doing well.

  15. I read somewhere that we only have so much willpower each day, so the more “good” things we can instill in ourselves as habits, the more willpower we have left to get through the day. So, having things like flossing your teeth or doing your yoga or just having a little bit of chocolate be ingrained in your daily life gives you willpower to make healthy choices in other areas.

  16. Also, having a stressful day chips away at your willpower, which is why we snack or drink too much in the evening after a hard day.

  17. ilengr – I’ve also read that ice cream has the same nutritional profile as breast milk and it’s a superfood so let your kids eat ice cream.

  18. “, I’m eating ice cream as I read this.

    I just had a brownie.”

    I just had a little baggie of potato chips. In all fairness, if I just eat one vending machine sized pack, I’m happy, and I don’t eat a whole family size bag in one sitting… so there’s that.

    I’m never sure where my willpower lies or what may tempt me. I don’t focus on it routinely, so I don’t know. I go to yoga now because (1) we pay the gym membership and (2) it helps me feel better. But I don’t berate myself for skipping (like I did last night). I want to save more, but can’t get into the habit with other financial obligations, so I do what I can pre-tax and call it good. For now. It’s a nagging thing for me, so eventually I’ll solve it. But on the flip side, I don’t spend willy nilly. So there’s that too. I’ve always just eaten what I’ve wanted – I tend to choose healthy things, so I don’t sweat the cookies or chips I eat.

    I know this all sounds like I’m perfect and have it all figured out – I don’t. I just don’t think my willpower/temptations are in any category which makes huge impacts on my life. Or I just give in to everything so I’m never tempted. Maybe it’s that – I just give in all the time so temptation doesn’t “work” per se. I have no willpower so I’m never tempted?

  19. I love this C.S. Lewis quote (from Mere Christianity, book 3, ch. 11) on-topic: “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good…Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is…A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it…”

  20. Avoiding “near occasions of sin” is a spiritual practice that works for other areas of life. It’s setting yourself up to succeed, and many of the comments here reveal that we know ourselves and our weaknesses pretty well. I swim first thing every morning, because I need to and also because it won’t then get displaced for something else. It’s usually dark when I leave the house and it’s definitely not fun to trudge through snow and ice and get into a chilly pool but I am *never* sorry afterward. I encourage others who have willpower issues with exercise to focus on that feeling afterward. With food I am trying the small scoop of ice cream every night approach. Rhett, you know I love you but will never forgive you for mentioning Talenti gelato on this site.

  21. I do have that inherent instinct to think about the consequences. It keeps me pretty disciplined about most temptations. One of my sons did not have this. We used to say to him “think about how tomorrow Carlos (not his real name) will feel about this.” It was clear that he had no concept of “tomorrow Carlos.” He eventually got better with age and I swear his ADHD meds somehow made “Tomorrow Carlos” a real person for him.

  22. I agree about avoiding the temptation completely. But what I’ve also found that works for me is being allowed to give in to the temptation in smaller amounts. About 10 years ago I lost 65 lbs on weight watchers and the reason it worked for me was because I could still have junk food and treats. It just had to be in smaller amounts. Previously I had been to dieticians and such, and I was never able to stick with their plans because they always said that the treats were forbidden except for special occasions.

    I have gained about 20 lbs back, but I’ve maintained a good chunk of the loss.

  23. LfB — why did you get off the meds?

    I’m privileged by not having excessive food cravings, EXCEPT when I try to diet. Then I am always thinking about food.

    AustinMom — where the walking locations where attacks occurred isolated paths? How early in the morning was it? It’s unfortunate that you seem to have no place where you’d feel comfortable walking alone. I can almost always feel safe walking near around here, even if I have to stick to relatively busy roadways. We have a greenway path that I mainly feel comfortable using alone only on weekends, when it’s usually pretty busy.

  24. LfB – way to go on the 14:59!

    So, willpower is something I have in spades, and always have. I’m not sure it’s a good thing, though. I have ironclad willpower because if on the rare occasion I don’t stick to my plan, I am consumed with regret and self-loathing. So much so that whenever I consider veering from my plan–skipping a workout, eating crap, missing a self-imposed deadline–I only have to recall how miserable I will make myself feel if I veer, and I will quickly conclude it’s not worth it. That can’t be a good thing. I would like to blame my childhood with a high expectations military father for this, but my brother has the same dad, and he’s not like this. My sister is, though–and she’s older than I am, so perhaps I’ll blame her too, along with my dad. ;)

    On one hand, this quirk has resulted in some good things: I have never had to diet, because from the time I became aware of the importance of nutrition and exercise (middle school), I have stayed the course wrt those two things. I’ve had days where I go off the rails a bit, sure, but not very many. And not the weeks or months off the rails that lead people to have to take extreme measures to get back on track. I am seeing, from watching people at work, and various friends, that my willpower-induced “slow and steady wins the race” path really is the way to go for physical health. For that reason, I’m not sure I completely regret being so rigid.

    On the other hand, it can’t be ideal, from a mental health standpoint, to be like this. I should be able to miss a bloody deadline–one I set myself, for goodness sake–and not feel terrible about it. My Zen-filled DH is always so flummoxed when he tells me to “Just blow it off!” and I look at him like he’s told me to saw off my left arm.

  25. I’ve also read that ice cream has the same nutritional profile as breast milk and it’s a superfood so let your kids eat ice cream.

  26. I find that routine helps me. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day. For lunch I try to stick to places that serve healthier options.
    I do eat chocolate/sweets but after meals only. I buy a bag of truffles and eat two after dinner. Two, because after one, there is still one more to look forward to. I usually don’t snack – that was axed years ago as part of my weight loss plan.
    I have yet to get to a fitness class. The first step is signing up and paying for it. Once I do that, I go because I don’t want to waste money but I haven’t signed up yet.

  27. CoC – Except for one, they were all in daylight hours 6 am to 6 pm. They were in a couple of different neighborhoods, not on an isolated path. One was a block away from a local elementary school. The women were all attacked from behind.

    I didn’t feel uncomfortable before as I would usually see people periodically walking, walking their pet (one person has a pig), or out in their yards or open garages puttering when I was out. It’s been over 6 months now. We live on a street that you can use to bypass part of the busy street, so many walkers use it. The foot traffic is just now beginning to increase again, but still seeing more groups or people with dogs.

  28. Routine helps me tremendously, and I found the 30-day challenge a good way to kick start a routine. Also, I used to find excuses not to run on a particular day, like I was feeling very tired or a headache or whatever. But now I still get on the treadmill regularly even if I don’t feel well, even if I just walk instead of run. It helps me keep my routine going.

  29. “LfB — why did you get off the meds?”

    Highly controlled substance. Not designed/dr-approved for permanent use. Believe me, if I could stay on them forever, I would. It was wonderful realizing that this is what normal people must feel like every day.

  30. Highly controlled substance.

    Those honestly are the best kind.

    Speaking of things sold by the gram being generally more exciting that things sold by the pound. (to quote Jeremy Clarkson) Grand Tour – the Amazon version to Top Gear starts this Friday.

  31. During the week, I go for a run at 6 am. If I wait until after work, I will talk myself out of it. But when I run in the morning, I am too sleepy to talk myself out of it. I put on the clothes I laid out the night before, have a cup of tea, and then head out the door.

    Lately I’ve been focusing on cutting out sugar because the side effects really made me fee terrible. If I have it in the morning or afternoon, I completely crash later on. And recently I’ve noticed that if I have sugar in the evening, it leads to hot flashes while I’m sleeping. I really don’t like the hot flashes so that’s been a strong motivator to stay away from the sugar.

  32. Rhett – we have it marked on our calendar! DS has seen every Top Gear episode multiple times.

  33. Oh, Talenti gelato *sigh* Now I want some, you stinkers.

    You know what else you don’t need? The new salted caramel chips from Hershey’s. I had to put them on a very high shelf in the pantry to stop eating them, and that only works when there is a child at home who is curious enough to ask why I’m standing on a chair by the pantry all the time.

    I’m sticking with daily running because it’s the only thing getting me to sleep – skipped yesterday due to the weather and could barely sleep at all. It’s not good for my right ankle, which is visibly swollen and hurts all the time. But I can’t stop. I never got the endorphin rush until about six months in and now I’m like a labrador retriever with too much energy if I don’t go.

    Austin, in order to go out and exercise alone my DH got me an apple watch, which I use with my iPhone to track where I am on my run – that way if I am ever delayed or off track, he knows. I also stick to the sidewalk by a very busy road. Could you work out with a buddy? There is a group of runners that meets here…but at 5 AM.

  34. “And recently I’ve noticed that if I have sugar in the evening, it leads to hot flashes while I’m sleeping. I really don’t like the hot flashes so that’s been a strong motivator to stay away from the sugar.”

    Oh hey — I hadn’t thought of this until you mentioned it, ssm! This whole foods, plant-based diet I’ve been doing for bone health effectively means hardly any sugar or processed food or refined carbs. I have noticed a miraculous difference in terms of afternoon energy levels–i.e., I have some, after decades of totally crashing in the afternoon, and especially on a work day. But I also have not had a single night sweat in ages, until you posted about it, I hadn’t even realized it. I had no idea there was a connection to sugar (or to any food) — I thought it was an age thing, and unavoidable. Makes me sort of happy about my chalky pea protein shakes!

  35. Rhett – chocolate cake! It’s got eggs, and milk, that’s breakfast!

    We use that rationale a lot always followed by “These are not *your* children”

    Risley – you and I must be related… “Let it go” does not work for me either… but my self-loathing and regret and downright hatred comes from other sources – like when life gets in the way of my plans, or I do/say something wrong, am somehow not at 100% all the time, or don’t check everything off my to-do list, or live in imposter syndrome land. It’s never self-loathing because I lack the willpower to *not* do something, it’s always from other factors, mistakes, or just a low self image I’ve been carrying with me my entire life. Life guilt? Mom guilt? Just plain ole guilt – that’s me.

    I wish a 30-day routine worked… we tried it with this crowd and I just couldn’t keep up with it… it’s quite annoying. Particularly because there are things in my life that would benefit from the “if you only do X for 20 minutes a day you’ll feel better”… like organizing the stuff in the basement – if I went down for 20 min after DS went to bed every night, I’d get so much done. And I know it – because when we did it, we got rid of a ton of stuff.

  36. Sky – please lay off the running until your ankle is better. I know it feels good, but YOU WILL MESS UP YOUR BODY FOR MONTHS!!!! MONTHS!!!! if you don’t stop now. Ask me how I know. :)

    I am pretty good with willpower wrt food – I find the same thing as Atlanta, that the more I restrict the more I want something, so I don’t label foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ the way I used to when I was really nuts. I am less good with exercising these days – I know it is good for me but I always feel like I should do work first, so I push exercising off and then it doesn’t get done.

  37. seattlesoccermom – +1 on Top Gear. I have watched so many episodes because DS is a huge fan. I think when he comes home for Thanksgiving he will be in Top Gear heaven!

  38. Risely,

    If you don’t mind sharing about the bone health issues, I’d be interested in any solid websites with information on treatment for osteoporosis and osteopenia. The NP at the major medical bone center I consulted was very keen to start me on a drug treatment that seems like overkill to me, but what do I know.

  39. Since I’ve been on my there are no good or bad foods thing like L, I can now kind of take or leave ice cream/sweets. I still like them, but really a little is enough now(and ice cream/chocolate has been my go to craving for my whole life). I’ve done paleo/whole 30/low sugar before and really regret it, I think it messed up my metabolism, so now I’m just eating what I feel like to fullness and that’s it. I don’t think I’ve gained any weight judging from how my clothes fit and I feel calmer.

    And Sky I agree with L – stop running if your ankle is hurt!

  40. “Those honestly are the best kind.”

    Honestly, if I weren’t so law-abiding (read: “terrified of effing up my life by doing something stupid”), I’d be looking to see if I could mail-order that stuff from Canada or somewhere.

  41. I can now kind of take or leave ice cream/sweets. I still like them, but really a little is enough now

    That’s kind of how I am now, but my husband really doesn’t understand it. OTOH we’ve had all these cookies around that we buy for kid lunches, some kind of fancy salted caramel ones currently and the Costco or Sam’s bakery ones and the little Choco Mushrooms, and they’re just not moving, so perhaps he’s become more resistant to sweets himself.

  42. I had an entirely different take on that article. Perhaps I just left off reading before it got prescriptive rather than descriptive. Mine was:

    Many people fail to recognize that their good habits and good choices are not because they are virtuous or have such strong willpower or are so good at avoiding tempting situations, but because they are simply not wired to find many vices or excesses tempting. That wiring might be innate, or it might be the result of early and lifelong good training and/or bad experiences . These people always test high at deferred gratification and future success.

    So if someone can’t bear to spend money even when he has some, or even the thought of consuming as much as, say, a single slider as a meal makes her feel bloated, that is not a reason to feel superior to others with less refined sensibilities. There is no virtue in resisting a temptation that is not perceived.

    Most of us feel that we need to justify the air we breathe each day first by proving our utility, and second by demonstrating our virtue (or our sincere attempt at it). So we will always be looking for a way on the one hand to keep ourselves productive, and on the other had to reinforce our self image as self controlled and moderate. So we work like dogs for pay or at home or in the community, and also make sure to deny ourselves something each day so that we can give ourselves a pat on the back.

  43. Regarding the original article, much depends on the definition of self control. Do I have “self control” to cook regularly and put leftovers into freezer containers to grab for lunch? When I make the choice to cook and put away leftovers, I’m also making a choice to not exercise or declutter in the time I spend cooking and cleaning up.

    For me, part of the challenge for exercise or organization is having an uninterrupted block of time. At this stage of life, I am either engaging in paid work or responsible for one or more children who require various levels of attention. The choice to make space for one thing crowds out something else, and maybe that’s part of self control fatigue.

    The choice not to indulge in a temptation- drugs or pornography or alcohol or chocolate- can be very hard. For me, substituting another activity is one way to resist temptation, and maybe that’s why the people interviewed report that they are tempted less often. Having to serve as a role model for one’s children may also facilitate good behavior- I can’t very well eat Saturday breakfast in my pajamas if I don’t let my children do it.

  44. I hope this crazylong message doesn’t post twice. It seems to be caught up, perhaps because I included links? I’ve deleted those and am trying again…

    Scarlett – no worries on the fake name. I’ll just change it to something easier … Haha.

    As to your question about OP (this is what the sites are calling osteoporosis these days, evidently)

    [insert caveat here about the fact that I am not a medical professional]

    [insert additional caveat about how long this response is, with my apologies to others who aren’t interested in the topic]

    For a number of reasons, I have decided to aggressively treat OP *without OP drugs*. Although I have read a ton of stuff, online and off, not all of it supports this approach. In terms of resources that do support it, I have found good information in

    (1) the Save Our Bones literature/website by Vivian Goldschmidt (including an e-book you can download for a fee. I paid $60 or so to download the e-book. It says on the site that it’s $300+ but there’s a sale often — just wait for it);
    (2) the Better Bones literature/website by Susan Brown (including a book she wrote, called Better Bones, Better Health);
    (3) the information on the discussion boards of the National Osteoporosis Foundation; and
    (4) Margaret Martin’s Yoga for Osteoporosis and Exercise for Osteoporosis are good, and I consulted with her over the phone a few months ago. (She also has a website)(she doesn’t talk about drugs — her focus is on exercise).

    I am currently reading Younger Next Year For Women, and I believe it’s going to support my approach, so I might add that to the list later.

    (Goldschmidt is vocally ANTI OP drugs. Brown is not so vocal. She advocates trying a natural approach, but concedes that in certain cases, OP drugs might be indicated). Neither is an MD. I have yet to find a comprehensive book written by an MD on the subject. This bothers me a bit, but less so now that I have spoken to three MDs about it. The three MDs I’ve consulted with are an endocrinologist, an OP expert at the OP clinic affiliated with the R1 school in my town (she’s also an endocrinologist), and the orthopedic surgeon who performed my hip replacements.

    The first two took a while to come around, but they ultimately both said that an aggressive approach *without* drugs might be best. (MDs are very reluctant to concede this, because they don’t want to be on record as saying not to take them, in case you later get a fracture and sue them. But, if you talk to them long enough, they may back down). The OP expert said, in response to my concerns about the drugs, “The bottom line is, we really don’t know.” She also told me to get the Juvent 1000, which I’d been holding out on because it costs about what a used car does. She said she’s read the studies and believes it can make a difference, and that she tells anyone who can afford it to get one. (www.juvent.com)

    The third, my hip guy, *cringed* when I mentioned my GP had told me to take OP drugs (as did his PA), and said, “Bad idea. Take it from someone who sees the results of these things — chalky bones. I do surgery on women who’ve taken these drugs, and their bones are dust.” He went on to talk about how bone density is merely one measure of bone health. Another, and the more important one in his mind, is bone quality. The OP drugs improve bone density (your DXA scan looks better) but they destroy bone quality. (The mechanism of the OP drugs, and their effects on density vs quality, is discussed in detail in the Save Our Bones e-book. It’s all about osteoclasts and osteoblasts).

    I’m happy to talk to you about this offline if you like — CofC knows how to reach me.

    PS – based on something I read on the NOF boards [which can be a deep and terrifying rabbit hole if you’re not careful], I have been careful to tell my GP and the OP clinic I’m now being followed at that I am “aggressively treating my OP without drugs.” Word on the boards is that if you simply say you’re refusing the meds, and that’s in your chart, there could be an issue with insurance coverage if you later have a fracture that they connect to OP. In any event, I *am* aggressively treating my OP, so i have no problem putting that in writing to my doctors, and I’ve been doing that, just in case the boards are correct and I need a good paper trail at some point down the line.

  45. “DW and her insanely ambitious vacation schedule”

    She’s a traveler, not a vacationer. My family’s like that too, although I look forward to more relaxed traveling once the kids fly the nest.

    I hope you enjoyed your travels and look forward to hearing more about them.

  46. “Many people fail to recognize that their good habits and good choices are not because they are virtuous or have such strong willpower or are so good at avoiding tempting situations, but because they are simply not wired to find many vices or excesses tempting.”

    Some other posters and I referred to this idea. Hence, my characterization of my willpower as “privileged”. IOW, trying to check my privilege. :)

  47. “I like saving money = you don’t ever waste food, huge sin. Of course, my family refuses to eat leftovers, because they are spoiled entitled twits who grew up soft and privileged. :-) Result: I am the family dog, responsible for hoovering whatever leftovers we have. ”

    I’m like you in not wanting to ever waste food. But I’ve been able to control the urge to scarf down all the leftovers in favor of putting them away for later, because that means less cooking to do later.

    I love the nights when we can just pull out a bunch of leftovers from the fridge for dinner. So much less work, and it frees up time for other things, whether it be extra sleep, a longer workout, getting some chores done, or watching some TV. This provides me with a strong incentive to not eat too much, since eating less will stretch out the food already prepared and lead to more nights like this.

  48. “part of the challenge for exercise or organization is having an uninterrupted block of time.”

    Why do you need uninterrupted blocks of time to exercise or organize?

    If that’s keeping your from either, you might want to pre-plan ways to do it in short intervals. E.g., you’ve got 30 seconds free, that’s enough time to get down for one set of pushups, or look in your immediate area for one or two things that are out of place to put away.

    The benefits of both are cumulative.

  49. I don’t like shopping, so saving v spending money comes easily for me. On the other hand, I love eating, and controlling what I eat is more difficult.

  50. “This provides me with a strong incentive to not eat too much, since eating less will stretch out the food already prepared and lead to more nights like this.”

    Ahhh, Finn, I would dearly LOVE to do this. Except for that whole evit. twits. don’t. eat. leftovers. thing. Argh.

  51. Finn, your exercise point is well taken and I’m realizing I can do a few push-ups or situps in a short time. It doesn’t work well for sustained cardio, though. I separate organizing (where I have to take everything out of a drawer, see what’s too small, and usually wind up refolding/organizing what gets put back) from “picking up”. “Picking up” is constant with a one year old who doesn’t think shoes belong on the shoe rack, books in the book case or toys in the toy bin, and it doubles as non-cardio exercise.

  52. Yeah, my kids often fix themselves ramen / udon / pho (that Oh Ricey stuff) when they hear it’s leftover night.

    Interesting local story developing here:


    He got in on the first wave of asbestos litigation and rode it to riches. His much younger wife was the managing partner in his small firm for years, though it looks like she’s now ‘retired’ — don’t think they’ve divorced. Meanwhile the guy who’s been doing most of the day-to-day work for decades, the one the comment is from, is apparently still a “senior attorney,” not a junior partner, even with his name listed second in the firm name. I expect Poirot to be called in to investigate any time now! (But in reality, it’s probably just an accident — the guy’s been commuting by helicopter for decades and it caught up with him.)

  53. ” Except for that whole evit. twits. don’t. eat. leftovers. thing. Argh.”

    DS is great about food, he pretty much eats whatever I put in front of him, or pack in his lunch, without complaint. If I make a big pot of chili and pack it for his lunch 4 days in a row, no complaints from him.

    DD, on the other hand, is more like your family. So I’ve stopped packing lunch for her. She can make her own, or spend her allowance at the cafeteria (not to mention needing to walk to the cafeteria).

  54. “Many people fail to recognize that their good habits and good choices are not because they are virtuous or have such strong willpower or are so good at avoiding tempting situations, but because they are simply not wired to find many vices or excesses tempting.”

    Well, if you don’t find something tempting, I would agree it doesn’t take any willpower to avoid it. So on any day I make a good choice — workout, meet a deadline — because I *want* to, that’s just making a choice, not exercising willpower.

    I was talking about overcoming temptations — i.e., the days when I don’t *want* to do the right thing, and am tempted to skip it. I think I overcome those temptations (or not) because of willpower.

    Certainly, many of us are faced with temptation far less often than others, because we’re wired to want to do the good things. But that doesn’t mean we’re never faced with temptation, or that it doesn’t take willpower to overcome it.

  55. I’m with LfB. I’m hungry every living minute of every day. If you are not, that’s awesome. Good for you. And so far everyone here, especially Risley, has taken great care not to pat themselves on the back for being able to resist food. But try it sometime when you’re on Prednisone and then talk to me. That’s what my life is like. I believe I have something wrong with my hunger-related hormones because I’ve been hungry since I was a very small child. It gets old.

    LfB, that stuff will eventually stop working. That’s the only reason not to take it indefinitely. Most amphetamine-related things stop working or require mass quantities after awhile (so why is that not true of Ritalin or Adderall? Hm.) But if you want more, there are plenty of pill mills in Denver that will sell you Phentermine without batting an eye. Look for “medical weight loss” clinics near you. Phentermine doesn’t kill my appetite. Otherwise I’d be hoarding it.

  56. RMS – you should check out Matt Stone’s blog – 180 Degree Health. He doesn’t post that often anymore on the actual blog but I find his ideas interesting about metabolism/hormones, etc. He says every time you diet or restrict a certain macronutrient (like low carb) you’re lowering your metabolism further and increasing the stress response in your body. He has this rest and refeeding program where you’re supposed to eat to a little past fullness from all the macronutrient groups, sleep a lot and not exercise for 30 days with the idea of increasing your metabolism. It seems like it’s worked for a bunch of people. People gain weight but then some eventually start losing it once their metabolism is higher (although this is easier the younger you are.) He thinks if you’re basal temp is below 97.8 then that signals low metabolism/decreased thyroid function. His tagline is “eat the food”.

  57. Oh I love gambling. I know I totally lose any semblance of totebag cred, but I think it’s fun. It’s probably genetic (my dad buys scratch tickets every day) and this is totally why DH and I have to automate our finances. Not spending money is a constant exercise in willpower for me in the way some people seem to feel about eating junk food.

  58. LfB can I ask what medicine? I lost 25 lbs earlier this year, but am now stuck and struggling to get motivated again.

  59. Gambling. After the funeral, I bonded with some of my cousins, whom I saw very rarely growing up, at a blackjack table in an Indian casino (“tribal gaming”). We had an initial string of some really good luck, dealer busting over and over and over. My cousin insisted that it was Grandma’s presence, and displayed her Mass card prominently on the table.

    But eventually, I was down from an initial $100 (and a high of maybe $300) to about $20, although DW turned her $100 into about $175.

  60. I think I am more in the Risley camp. I have unusually strong willpower and self discipline. But, I don’t believe it’s because it’s not tested day to day (it definitely is). I think it’s a self-soothing mechanism for anxiety. So, for example, I never, ever procrastinate on work (or previously, school) related matters, because the anxiety that comes with the procrastination is so much worse than the willpower required to just get the work done. I also almost always truck my way through my household to-do list, because the unsettled feeling for me that comes with a chaotic house isn’t worth the afternoon of relaxation. (But if I can get the chores and errands done, oooohhhh how good it feels then to chill.)

    I have very few eating temptations, though. I think this comes from years of being a picky eater.

    On exercise, I crave it so that doesn’t require willpower (Sky! Stop! You might have a stress fracture!).

    What takes willpower from me on a daily basis is not losing my mind with people. I am not a people person.

  61. ilengr, good to hear from you.

    Did you ever buy the electric car and run the 220V electric service to your garage?

  62. Kerri: “I do find it much, much harder to consistently do positive things (e.g. exercise regularly) than to resist negative things (junk food).”

    SSM: “I find it much easier to start a positive activity (e.g. exercise) than to avoid a negative one (stuff my face with carbs when I’m stressed out or tired).”

    I’m much more like SSM than Kerri, especially when it comes to eating. I can eat stuff because it’s supposed to be good for me, like broccoli, but I have a hard time resisting stuff that’s bad for me.

    I find single serving packages helps me. E.g., I can eat one ice cream sandwich, but if I’m serving myself from the carton, the main thing limiting me is wanting to save some for the next day.

  63. Risley,
    Thanks for the info. I ran into the SaveOurBones website and was wondering if she was way out there. I will take a look at the other sites and then may ask CoC for your contact info.
    Amazingly never considered the medmal aspect of the aggressive drug treatment plan, but it makes perfect sense.

  64. Oh I love gambling. I know I totally lose any semblance of totebag cred, but I think it’s fun.

    I love gambling as well, but I haven’t done it in about 20 years. I realized I could become a compulsive gambler very easily – I loved the rush – so I decided it was better to stay away.

  65. Scarlett – I was worried she might be way out there, too. All the “big Pharma is out to screw us” stuff doesn’t appeal to me, and for good or bad, I’ve been raised to look to an MD for health advice and ignore everyone else. But I ran her main ideas past the OP expert here — i.e., alkaline diet / exercise / supplements / OP drugs improve density but destroy quality, and we should be worried about quality / there are no studies showing OP drugs are safe for someone who’s looking at using them for 30-40 years / small-framed, light women may have lower density to begin with, so the T scores aren’t all that accurate for them — and the expert agreed with all of it, as did my hip guy.

    BTW, I’m typing this while standing on my Juvent thing. Had the OP expert not said she strongly believed in this, I’d think it was expensive hocus pocus. Sometimes I still think that.

  66. Risley – I appreciate you sharing what you are doing with your osteopenia. If you’re right (and it seems to me you are doing a lot of things that makes sense), it will be a very boring journey to watch – a whole lot of not broken bones.

    I want to cast a little doubt on the idea that insurance would not cover a hip fracture because you had not elected to treat with bisphosphonates (and that they would cover it if you had stated you were treating it aggressively with diet, but not if that was left unsaid.) A large portion of what hospitals do involves treating noncompliant patients – amputation for diabetes? stroke from not taking blood pressure medication? copd flare from continued smoking? I think doctors tend to use that as a threat (perhaps unknowingly) – if you don’t follow advice, not only will bad things happen, but you will need to pay for it yourself. I used to tell patients leaving against medical advice that they would have to foot their own bill, because I had been heard that through the grapevine – turns out to be completely untrue. So, I can’t categorically say that an insurer has to pay for a hip fracture no matter what treatment you had for osteopenia, but I am pretty sure they would. Anyone who says otherwise should be required to cite real examples.

  67. @MBT — it was phentermine, as Rocky referred to. Congrats on the 25 lbs, that’s awesome!

  68. Ada, we always tell patients who want to leave skilled rehab AMA that it will affect future coverage but I have no idea if that actually happens.

  69. On a different subject, I’m curious what changes or direction the Democrats on here want to see their party take (if any). There are hundreds of news articles now about these debates: blue collar vs. elites, traditional white voters vs. minorities, party leadership, urban vs. rural, Colorado vs. Pennsylvania, populism vs. pragmatism, Sanders/Warren vs. Schumer/Wall St., Pelosi vs. someone else?

  70. @ Milo – you should submit that as a post – if you could design your party’s platform, what would it look like?

  71. WCE – Thanks for posting that gambling article. I too love gambling and I know myself well enough to not take my atm card into a casino. I bring in only what I have decided I can afford to lose, having left enough to pay for the parking afterwards in my car.

    The article also hints at but does not directly mention something that I have always felt, even known: table games, especially craps, but also blackjack, poker, baccarat can’t be technologically messed with (I guess the dice could be unevenly weighted) the same way as the electronic slot machines and video poker machines can be. Slots especially, but also roulette, have always been in theory random; no knowledge of outcome odds helpful in betting, so they are/were the games for people who like(d) gambling but never want(ed) to work too hard ow who were bad at math.

  72. Oops, I meant to post that on the election thread. Maybe I’ll try to write a post for next week’s election thread.

    I like blackjack but don’t really like poker because it requires an aggressiveness that I can’t muster. Blackjack you just have to know the rules, but even then, to get as close as possible to house parity, you have to double down when appropriate, which, again, makes me nervous.

    I was just listening on NpR to an interview with Grisham about his new book, which involves a corrupt Indian casino. Should be fun.

Comments are closed.